Oceanic Robot Emerges From Tragically Destructive Pacific Typhoon Undamaged
"Wave Glider" one of Liquid Robotic's 250 oceanographic robots was put to the test this past week as it ventured through the Pacific Ocean, collecting data during 'Typhoon Rammasun', one of the most biggest typhoons to hit the Pacific area in the past few decades.
It's important not to understate the power of Rammasun. More than 150 lives were tragically lost across the Philippines, Vietnam, and China, while around 370 thousand homes were destroyed across southwest Asia. Rammasun packed winds of over 100mph, which combined with heavy rainfall and flood waters has led to tens of millions of dollars of damage.
With this in mind, it's easy to see why the Liquid Robotics team were pleased to see their surfboard-sized robot came out of the typhoon totally unscathed. The 'wave-glider' was able to continue it's data collection task without the slightest interference while confronted with the deadly conditions of 9 meter high waves, frequent gusts of up to 216 km/h, and endless heavy rains.
Along with Liquid Robotics' 249 other 'wave-glider' models around the world, this 'bot was 'built for durability,' able to sense and measure oceanographic conditions like temperature, barometric pressure, speed of wind, direction of currents, transmitting everything along the way via it's satellite technology, wifi connection, and cellular data.
Because of their simple innovative design powered by solar panels and the motion of waves, fellow 'wave-gliders' have made it through 16,000 km sails in high storms, as well as shark attacks and jellyfish stings.
But, according to senior vice president of Liquid Robotics Graham Hine, "this is the most powerful storm that a Wave Glider or any other sea robotic system has weathered successfully at the sea surface. [...] Interestingly, the telemetry shows no degradation of the system, so all of the sensing systems and vehicle performance seem to be nominal."
While the survival of a small sea-faring robot won't seem like much of a plus to take out of such a tragic event, there is hope that some good can come if Wave Rider's efforts.
"The hope is that by getting more measurements at the sea surface and really understanding how the energy is transferred from the sea water to the air and vice versa is pretty critical to being able to predict the intensity of the hurricane when it hits shore," Hine said. Hopefully, with further development and implementation of tools such as these, measures will start to be taken towards preventing the high numbers of casualties from various natural catastrophes to come.